Top story: inquiry a first into a former PM
Good morning everyone, Graham Russell here to deliver you the news for one morning only.
David Cameron said last night he “will be glad to take part” in an unprecedented inquiry into lobbying by a former prime minister in the run-up to the collapse of Greensill Capital. The independent investigation, ordered by Boris Johnson, is understood to have licence to recommend changes to lobbying regulations. No 10 said it “will also look at how contracts were secured and how business representatives engaged with government”.
The independent review will be led by Nigel Boardman, a senior consultant at the law firm Slaughter and May, which previously challenged the Cameron administration when he proposed to change lobbying rules.
Campaigners including Transparency International have said the whole saga “highlights deep flaws in the UK’s approach” and that an inquiry should cover the lack of transparency in lobbying, enforcing the ministerial code and the revolving door between government and the private sector.
Cameron put out a lengthy statement on the whole affair – he said he had reflected on his conduct and accepted that he should have communicated “through only the most formal of channels” and there were “important lessons” to be learned. Here are some of the the key passages of that statement and their significance. The Greensill saga stretches back to 2011 – a handy timeline is here.
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Coronavirus: Covid disruption to hospitals meant more than 4.5 million people in England missed out on treatment last year, including cancer treatment and joint replacements. The Health Foundation estimates the millions of “missing patients” could send the overall NHS waiting list soaring from 4.6 million people to 9.7 million by 2024. GoFundMe says the number of people seeking to crowdfund treatment due to “waiting lists” has risen 87% in the past year. Sarah Marsh spoke to Kerry, who has eye cancer: “I was pretty stunned to be told I only had a year to live and there was no treatment available.”
All over-50s and high-risk groups in the UK have now been offered a coronavirus vaccine, two days ahead of schedule, paving the way for the next phase of the rollout. Boris Johnson hailed the news as “another hugely significant milestone”. The next cohort for the jab will be announced this week but Johnson hinted that the current plan would continue, suggesting those in their late 40s will be next.
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Minneapolis on edge: Police have clashed with protesters for a second night in the suburbs of Minneapolis after it emerged 20-year-old Daunte Wright was accidentally shot dead by a police officer who had meant to use her Taser. Teargas, flash bangs and other non-lethal force was used to disperse hundreds of people who gathered outside the police headquarters the city of Brooklyn Center, defying a 7pm curfew. The officer at the centre of the shooting has been identified as 26-year force veteran Kim Potter. Vice president Kamala Harris has called for accountability over the shooting, saying: “Daunte Wright should still be with us.”
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‘One of the greatest social democrats’: “An inspiration to millions, a Liberal lion and a true trailblazer.” So said the Lib Dem leader, Ed Davey, after the death of Shirley Williams, one of the “gang of four” Labour politicians who split to form the Social Democratic party, which later became the Liberal Democrats. Keir Starmer said Williams would be hugely missed, while Tony Blair called her “one of the greatest social democrats of the last century, an immense figure of progressive politics through the decades”. Boris Johnson said she would be “much missed”, tweeting: “Even when we disagreed – as we often did – she had the gift of sounding so completely reasonable at all times.”
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‘Please bring him back’: A £1,000 reward has been offered for the return of Darius, the world’s largest rabbit, stolen while living out his salad days in a garden in Worcestershire. The 129cm-long continental giant rabbit was awarded a Guinness World Record in 2010 for being the biggest of its kind. Dariu’s owner, Annette Edwards, said it was “a very sad day”.
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Today in Focus podcast
The Guardian’s Ireland correspondent, Rory Carroll, looks at what is fuelling loyalist anger in Northern Ireland.
Lunchtime read: the toughest job in British farming
Ian Carswell is a knackerman, a job that has been hugely modernised in the past 50 years and yet remains essentially the same. He deals with the animals that do not thrive: the sick or lame or old, the cows condemned, the pigs with broken legs, the orphan lambs that took one look at life and quit, the ailing horses, the sickly ewes and surplus bullocks. These are the animals who will never leave home or face the long final journey to the abattoir. In their case, the executioner comes to them.
“I don’t have a problem killing an animal in distress,” Carswell says. “I don’t want to see things in pain. The times I have a problem, it’s killing healthy animals.
It has been 10 years since Arsenal narrowly beat Chelsea on the bumpy Imperial Fields of Tooting & Mitcham United FC to launch the Women’s Super League. Fast forward a decade and the WSL has moved from its semi-professional eight-team beginnings to a fully professional top tier of 12 sides, a semi-pro second tier of 12 teams and a Barclays title sponsorship worth about £20m. Hege Riise, England’s interim manager, has said Lucy Bronze may not feature in the friendly against Canada on Tuesday evening because the right‑back is still struggling to return from a groin injury.
This may have been the night Champions League football became too lofty an aspiration for Everton, although things could have been worse. Not even a new form of VAR imbroglio could prevent West Brom from swaggering to a victory that keeps alive their slim hopes of springing free of relegation. Hideki Matsuyama’s historic Masters glory has added a fresh, positive dynamic to golf and the Tokyo Games, with speculation already suggesting the 29-year-old Japanese player might be selected to light the Olympic cauldron in July. Julian Edelman has announced he is retiring from the NFL after 11 seasons, citing a knee injury that cut his 2020 season short after just six games.
The high street has been given a badly needed boost as fashion stores, toy shops and hairdressers have opened their doors once again. The former Bank of England governor Mervyn King has warned that central banks and finance ministers are becoming hooked on stimulus measures, saying: “Policymakers seem to behave as if whenever there’s a bit of bad news, we inject a lot more money into the economy, we have more fiscal stimulus, but when things return to normal we don’t withdraw it.” Liberty Steel has missed deadlines to file accounts for some of its biggest British businesses, a sign of the difficulties facing Sanjeev Gupta’s empire.
Earlier, the pound was buying $1.373 and €1.154.
Many papers today note the latest on the Greensill scandal, or analyse the tributes paid by princes Harry and William to Prince Philip in search of fresh evidence of a royal rift.
The Guardian leads with Boris Johnson ordering an inquiry into David Cameron’s lobbying for Greensill, with the main picture given to “trailblazer” Shirley Williams.
The Times says Cameron is prepared to answer Greensill questions and carries an image of Prince Philip and Prince George enjoying a carriage ride.
The Telegraph gives William’s tribute top billing (though it says it is “markedly different” to Harry’s), as does the Express – using his quote for the headline: “We’ll get on with the job”. The Sun says: “Brotherly love … for grandpa”, Metro goes for “Words apart”. The Mirror unites the brothers under: “We’ll miss you, grandpa”.
The FT goes straight with Johnson ordering a Greensill investigation but finds its joy with a picture of masked visitors getting whisked around on an Alton Towers ride.
The Mail claims an exclusive on news that senior royals plan to accompany the Queen to future events, while Richard Kay “decodes” the Harry and William tributes. The i reports that ministers are considering mixing Covid booster jabs to improve immunity.
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